As the clock ticks ever onwards towards oblivion, the world’s musical taste seems to reflect the times. It was only twenty-five years ago that Nirvana became the biggest band in the world, and yet since then the mainstream musical world has changed into something nearly unrecognisable. Despite that, groups made up of white boys with guitars and a set of heartfelt lyrics will never truly die.
All of which is a long-winded way of introducing us to Joyce Manor and their fourth album, Cody, which came out earlier this month. Which in many ways was its first mistake; this is a summer album and sitting listening to it on a cold October day doesn’t quite feel right. The second ‘Fake I.D.’ wraps its fingers around your brain you want to be outside in the sun, strolling down the street and singing along. Not locked away inside huddled against the cold.
However, judging a band by the time of year they released their album is certainly not fair, and it doesn’t change the fact that Cody is so relentlessly catchy that you might want to keep it away from the young and the elderly – at least until they get their jabs. These are songs to fall in love with, and while there is no denying that tracks like ‘Angel in the Snow’ are maybe a bit overly-earnest, it won’t stop you humming them hours after you’ve stopped listening to the album.
Which many people will read as disposable; catchy summer songs are great, but they are associated with pop music and are hardly what comes with great art. For great art, you must feel pain. Well, that’s where you’re wrong. Because underneath it’s bright exterior, there is a wit and an edge to this album. On tracks like ‘Over Before It Began’ and ‘Do You Really Want To Get Better?’ you can feel the pain in lead singer Barry Johnson’s voice, and that is more powerful than a hundred jaunty riffs.
Which is important, because it gives Cody the layers that will have you coming back for more listens. At only 24 minutes long this is an easy album to gobble up and spit away, but on every return, you’ll find another lyric or hook that will catch you in for more. The simplest example of that is that this review started out lukewarm and yet has grown in positivity with every listen.
If the world were a perfect place Joyce Manor would be modern pop. These infectious songs are made to be sung along with, and it would be a crime if no one did. However, there’s also enough here to live up to repeat listens. It’s packed full of witty lyrics and astute observations. All of which means that even when it is occasionally over-earnest, you can forgive that the second one of those big choruses comes gliding in. It’s just a damn shame that this album dropped at the start of a long cold winter rather than in the heady days of summer.